Monday, December 1, 2014

Here's Why Rudy Giuliani Would Rather Talk about Black-on-Black Crime than Ferguson

by Nomad

Remarks on the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri by Rudy Giuliani have caused a bit of a stir in the media. Some have charged him with showing his racist side.

For those who know Giuliani's record as mayor of New York, nothing he has said is much of a surprise.   

Rudy's Rude Remarks

As the former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani  earned a reputation as a hard-as-nails tough guy who cleaned up the city of crime. It's an image he likes to promote and it plays well with his conservative base. So when he was asked to comment on the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, his remarks were bound to be blunt and to hit a nerve with some people. If that was his intention, then he certainly succeeded. 

On a TV news show, he told a black reporter that white police officers wouldn't be in black communities if "you weren't killing each other" and that "there is virtually no homicide in the white community." The word "you" is presumably short for "you black people."
The fact is that I find it very disappointing that you're not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks.
The Atlantic Monthly thoroughly decimated Giuliani's contention that police officers are the saviors of the black community. Journalist Ta-nehısı Coates wrote with a full helping of sarcasm:
It's almost as if killers tend to murder people who live near them. Moreover, it seems that people actually hold officers operating under the color of law to a different standard. This is an incredible set of insights, which taken together offer a revelation so profound, so far-reaching, that it must not be wasted on our shiftless minority populations.  
Unable to stop himself, Giuliani made other thoughtless statements. Following the decision not indict the police officer Darren Wilson, Giuliani said that he'd prosecute witnesses whose stories contradict Wilson's account. As if the police officer's account of the event - the defendant, in this case- was a standard by which all other eye-witness accounts should be judged. 
To be sure these were offensive remarks and they came at the wrong time. Yet, as any New Yorker will tell you, statements like this are pure Giuliani. 

Actually, as they would also tell you, the remarks hide an ugly truth about Giuliani.

The Dorismond Shooting

Back in March 2000 an event in New York occurred that closely parallels the Micheal Brown shooting. A 29-year-old detective police officer, Anthony Vasquez, shot and killed African American Patrick Dorismond

The unarmed Brooklyn man had been waiting for a cab outside a bar when two undercover police officers asked Dorismond where he and his partners could purchase marijuana. 

Like the Wilson shooting, the truth about what happened next depends on which side you believe. Friends of Dorismond say that neither officer identified themselves, that both were aggressive and “in their face ” and that one of the cops who initiated the fight, hitting Dorismond first.

The police officers had a different story. Dorismond, they stated, became enraged when the officers propositioned him and declared that he was not a drug dealer. (In fact, Dorismond was the father of two young girls and a security guard.) The police reported that it was Dorismond and his friend who initiated the attack and that the police had acted in self-defense. 

Almost immediately the mayor stepped in and told reporters not to prejudge the case:
''I would urge everyone not to jump to conclusions, to allow the facts to be analyzed and investigated without people trying to let their biases, their prejudices, their emotions, their stereotypes dictate the results.''
Fair enough. Not unexpectedly, the Dorismond funeral was also the center of protests against police brutality. The mayor's comments were perhaps an attempt to calm the situation. 

Unfortunately, the mayor's advice didn't stop the news media from revealing details about Vasquez  a few days later. 
His record showed that in training at the police academy, he had shot a dog in his yard in Shirley, N.Y. He has also pulled a gun in a bar fight and had been the subject of a domestic-abuse complaint by his wife who had also taken out an order of protection.

Other police officers rushed to his defense. One undercover detective Felix Pedroza told reporters:
''He is a very level-headed guy, a very passive guy He's obviously been in many more dangerous situations than the one the other night, and he is always able to talk his way out.''
In other comments, the mayor said that when it came to police shootings, the police deserved the benefit of the doubt. 

But then Mayor Giuliani did something still more prejudicial. 
While the public and the grand jury were looking over the evidence, Giuliani authorized the release of the Dorismond's police record. The right to privacy, he said, did not apply to the victim after his death. 

Those records had been sealed because he was a juvenile at the time. Giuliani said in an interview that the release was warranted in order to show that Dorismond was not ''an altar boy.'' (The same slimy tactic is being applied to Michael Brown.)

Ironically Dorismond had attended the same Catholic school as Giuliani and had been an altar boy. (Giuliani had, on the other hand, been the son of a man who had spent time in Sing-Sing and had worked for a brother's mob-connected loan sharking business.)

The New York Times pointed out at the time that the mayor's move was clearly an attempt to smear the reputation of the victim.
In fact, Mr. Dorismond was never convicted of a crime as an adult. His two arrests resulted in disorderly conduct violations for which he performed community service, and a case against him in 1987, when he was 13, was dropped.
The move was an extremely controversial one.  So much so that the disclosure of the sealed criminal record led to the  city's public advocate to file a petition for a public inquiry against Giuliani. 
His poor judgment in this matter came up in his Senate campaign against Hillary Clinton. 

The Unforgotten List

New York's minority population had every reason to question the mayor's position on what many saw as out of control police. Going back over the years, it was hard not see a disturbing pattern and to draw conclusions.

Names and incidents of the past were not forgotten, names like Anthony Baez, who was choked during an altercation with an off-duty officer, and ten-year-old Randolph Evans, shot point blank by an officer who escaped justice by pleading insanity, 

There was also the 1985 case of Eleanor Bumpurs, a grandmother shot and killed by police during an eviction. The 66-year-old Bumpurs, a senior citizen in poor health, and mentally ill, had fallen behind on her monthly rent of $98.65. She was reportedly aggressive and threatening. After Bumpurs refused to open the door, police broke in. In the struggle to subdue her, one officer shot Bumpurs twice with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Despite a grand jury indictment of the officer on second-degree manslaughter, that indictment was dismissed by a judge who ruled that jury had essentially made a wrong decision. The police officer, the judge declared, had acted "in conformity with the guidelines and procedures outlined" in the NYPD's Emergency Service Unit manual."

At that time, Giuliani was a U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. He said, after reviewing the case, that there was nothing indicating that the case was not tried "fully, fairly and competently," and that there was no "proof of a specific intent to inflict excessive and unjustified force."

The Diallo Murder

Only a year earlier, on February 4, 1999 another shooting had also been in the news. Four New York City Police Department plain-clothed officers shot and killed Amadou Diallo, a 23-year-old immigrant from Guinea.  

At about 12:40 a.m in the morning, Diallo was returning home from a late meal. He was stopped by four plain-clothes police because he happened to match the description of a serial rapist. 

Police later claimed they identified themselves as NYPD officers and that the suspect fled to his building. He was told to put his hands up and show some identification. 

According to the police accounts, Diallo was standing in a dimly lit area in front of his apartment building. 
While Diallo was removing his wallet on his doorstep, the officers assumed it was a weapon and began firing.They fired a total of 41 rounds, 19 of which struck the unarmed victim.

An internal investigation by the NYPD ruled that, according to policy, the officers had reacted in a reasonable manner given the situation. Unlike the Wilson case, a Bronx grand jury indicted the four officers on charges of second-degree murder and reckless endangerment. 
Insiders were not surprised however when the jury acquitted the officers of all charges.

In April 2000, Diallo's parents sued the City of New York for $ 61,000,000 ($20m plus $1m for each shot fired) charging gross negligence, wrongful death, racial profiling, and other violations of Diallo's civil rights. 
That case was finally settled at only $3 million in 2004.
*   *   *
Journalist Jonathan Wallace in March 2000 made the connection between the Giuliani  leadership and the trigger happy nature of the NYPD. There was a reason for that.
As a former prosecutor, the mayor relies on the police as his power base. They are not simply one of the city agencies under his management, nor does he regard them as a group which needs to be carefully supervised, as prone to suicide, alcoholism and violence. Because the mayor draws his power from the police, he can never be in a position of criticizing anything they do. Instead, he will always be an apologist for their violence.
As Wallace pointed out in his article, Amadou Diallo defied the racial stereotypes.  He was never a threat and his murder was completely avoidable.
He did absolutely nothing wrong. He worked for a living, had no criminal record, was standing quietly on his own front stoop, offered no violence, and simply tried to retreat safely to the protection of his own home, a very natural reaction when pursued by four armed men he did not know to be cops.
His only crime was being a black male. His only crime was catching the attention of the police.     
Ask any young black man in New York City, neatly dressed teenager or even a computer consultant wearing a suit, how many times he has been stopped and harassed by the police.
Wallace noted that under Rudy Giuliani, New York City had witnessed the "terrible resurgence of officially condoned police racism."

Wallace went on to make another to make another interesting observation:
Rudy Giuliani is a dictator in waiting. He is self righteous, absolute, has no sense of humor, and will go to any lengths to punish his enemies. He is temperamentally completely unsuited to be senator, as it is a job requiring negotiation, collegiality, and charm. I believe he is interested in the job for one reason only: as a stepping stone to the Presidency.
That could perhaps explain the timing of his recent remarks as well.

An Unintentional Tragedy

In the final chapter of the Dorismond case, it was just another case of questionable justice.

On July 27, 2000, a Manhattan grand jury declined to indict Officer Vasquez in the death of Dorismond. The jury members declared they had found the shooting to be accidental. Giuliani applauded the verdict and said that Dorismond “was clearly the aggressor.” 

In July of 2000, he said that while felt the pain of racial- and ethnic-minority New Yorkers, it was "all but impossible to fault the undercover officer."

At City Hall the day after the grand jury decision not to indict, Giuliani said:
"I feel terrible for people who would feel upset about this case. I have great sympathy for any loss of human life."
However he also added that after reviewing the Manhattan district attorney's 33-page inquiry on the shooting:
"It's pretty hard to read this report and find something to criticize the police officers for."
That was not what the courts thought.

Three years later, after a lengthy court case, taxpayers footed the bill for their gun-happy police when the City of New York agreed to pay the Dorismond family $2.25 million to settle a lawsuit.

Upon the announcement of the settlement, the city's lawyers called the shooting as "a tragedy" and, like the grand jury, claimed that the officer had not had any intention of killing Dorismond.
One official said:
''The city continues to feel deep sympathy for the Dorismond family on the accidental death of their son and father.''
The city official added that it was appropriate under the circumstances, to compensate the victim's family. But what those special circumstances exactly were never nobody bothered to explain. 

For his part, Giuliani only said that he made a mistake in not clearly expressing his sympathy to the family. One reason for that was that Dorismond family members insisted on bringing a lawyer to any meeting with the Mayor so that private remarks could be recorded.

Giuliani's remarks at the Ferguson events would suggest that he hasn't any more sympathy for the Wilson family than he had for other families. Or perhaps he has just forgotten the lessons he supposedly learned from the Dorismond shooting. 
*   *   *
As Giuliani has said in the Ferguson case the police officers wouldn't have to be there "if you weren't killing each other." 

According to Rudy, then the answer is to allow white police officers to decide on the spur of the moment who among the minority community is guilty and who is not. The police, according to that logic should not be held accountable when they hastily dispense a lethal form of justice. 

That's not the kind of judicial expediency that black Americans should trust nor tolerate.